Spaceship Earth Vintage Photos
This post features “extinct attraction” photos of Spaceship Earth from EPCOT Center at Walt Disney World. Spaceship Earth is an 18-story geodesic sphere that serves as the main icon for Epcot, as well as an attraction based upon the history and significance of human communication that has been sponsored by various AT&T entities and, presently, Seimens. Although Spaceship Earth isn’t extinct in the sense that it’s totally gone, the original version of it is extinct, as well as some of its original entrance-area exterior look. Spaceship Earth has seen some of its show scenes, narrators, and soundtrack change over the years, but its message remains the same, as does the basic look of the exterior of the geodesic sphere (no, it is not a “giant golf ball”) housing the attraction.
Although Spaceship Earth doesn’t have the same loyal following as Journey into Imagination or Horizons, this is likely because Spaceship Earth still exists, albeit as a different incarnation of the attraction, whereas the latter two attractions are gone completely. We tend to appreciate what we don’t have more than what we do.
In Spaceship Earth, guests board “time machine” ride vehicles and travel through time from the beginning of civilization and slowly progress towards present day. From hunter-gatherer civilization and markings on cave walls to books, telephones, radios, film, television, and computers, the evolution of society is depicted with a communication motif. The newest (2007) version of Spaceship Earth features a dumbed-down script and lacks concluding show scenes in favor of expanses of dark space and in-ride touch screens, but other than that, the attraction (to me) is as impressive as ever. To learn more about specific scenes, check out Martin’s video on Spaceship Earth:
Despite this, Spaceship Earth is likely the most significant theme park attraction ever. It was amazing-enough that in the late 1970s Disney decided to break from the Castle tradition of Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom with such a futuristic icon but also one that would house an attraction. On top of that, the structure’s elevated design defied conventional engineering beliefs at the time that only 75% of the geodesic sphere could be off the ground. Finally, involvement on Spaceship Earth by a slew of Imagineering legends, collaboration with Ray Bradbury on the attraction’s script, and subsequent involvement with legends like Walter Cronkite and Jeremy Irons, plus a beautiful song and score have cemented its spot as the most important theme park attraction ever built. Other attractions have resonated with various individuals more on personal levels, but there’s little denying that Spaceship Earth is the defining EPCOT Center attraction that helped put the park on the radar of the general public back in 1982.
To me, the mere existence of such an incredible structure and attraction wholly embodies the EPCOT Center mantra, “We’ve just begun to dream!”
On to the user submitted photos! Unfortunately, only one from the inside.
To all of you who submitted photos, I am eternally grateful. These vintage posts would not have been possible without your generosity. For photographer attribution and other information, hover your cursor over each photo. Also, be sure to check out our photo credits page. If you have EPCOT Center photos, please check out our EPCOT Center Photo Search page for details on how to submit them!
The above photo and the photo immediately below it were taken from the monorail in June 1982 when Disney was offering previews of EPCOT Center from the monorail!
Please share your Spaceship Earth thoughts and memories in the comments, and be sure to share this post with your friends via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.!
The acrylic pieces from the fountain in front of Spaceship Earth are amazing, I wonder why they decided to remove them?
You have the same question I do. I have heard rumors that one of the pylons cracked early on, or that they yellowed, or during a budget crisis all parts of the park had to generate revenue, so it was taken out to make room for the Leave the Legacy granite markers. I also heard they were sold on e-bay. I would love to find out why they were removed, who originally designed them, etc.
Eugene Brignola was the artist.
Hi Tom, Not sure if they’re of interest, but a couple of shots from my post linked above are from the interior of the ride, but not terribly long ago. The interior ones were taken in 2008. I don’t think either scene has changed substantially during most of the overhauls, however.
Thank you for sharing these wonderful pictures. They sure do bring back memories of Epcot’s beginnings. I do miss the fountain that was out front and all the flower landscapes. It was more inviting then. I really dont care for the Picture Walls. They take away the beauty.
Keep up the great work with your Blogs! Love reading them and remembering the past! 😀
Tom, I really liked the entrance way to EPCOT “back in the day” when the Epcot fountain was there and the photo-monoliths were not there. I understand the importance of the photos but I think their bulk takes away from the entrance to Epcot (as well if you are standing between two of them on a hot day you feel yourself melting!). I hope they consider a “refurb” of this area in the future and maybe move the photos over to the sides so that people can still view them.
As someone who has loved Disney since I was a little girl, but has started to visit the parks in recent years it is nice to see what Epcot looked like originally. I was surprised to see that there was a Epcot logo statue fountain. It was beautiful…not sure why that was taken down. 🙁
Do you have posts like this one for the other parks?
Only Epcot right now. I might try to do others for other parks at a later date!
Love The Retro Epcot Pics Of Our Spaceship Earth !
Thankfully we have these pics to remind us of better days with “less clutter” ! I miss that but still love my beloved Epcot “center” !
sorry user name is leedavidt !
Sorry, but the interior photo with two figures (male and female) is from the “World of Motion” chariot salesman scene.
D’oh. I need to pay more careful attention when sorting. Thanks!
Nice vintage pictures. It was so nice to be able to walk into Epcot and see Spaceship Earth and not feel like I was walking into a cemetary. I wish the old fountain was still up…..oh well that is progress.
When was the America Gardens theater enclosed? In April 1996, my high school band played there and it was still open. We came out from backstage next to the American Adventure, and met Colonial Mickey, Minnie and Goofy right after our performance. Good times 🙂